The Chicago Cubs jumped all over Kenta Maeda early and cruised to a 7-2 win over the Los Angeles Dodgers in the three-game series opener at Wrigley Field. With the loss the Dodgers dropped to below .500 in 15 games against National League Central opponents.
Despite pitching on six days’ rest — when Maeda historically has fared well — he went to four three-ball counts and labored throughout the first inning as the Cubs batted around. One reason for Maeda’s trouble was an inconsistent strike zone.
Willson Contreras pulled a two-strike, two-out double down the left-field line after the Cubs loaded the bases.
Daniel Descalso followed with an RBI double, and in the second inning Anthony Rizzo’s two-run homer extended the Cubs’ lead to 6-0. That also capped off a stretch of Maeda allowing eight of the first 12 batters faced to reach safely.
The Dodgers had Dylan Floro and Julio Urias warming up at different stretches as Maeda was struggling to record outs. Curiously, it wasn’t until Maeda found a rhythm that he was replaced by Urias for what was his first relief appearance since being placed in the bullpen.
Maeda wound up going four innings and retired the final eight batters faced, including four by strike out. He exited with the Dodgers staring at a 6-1 deficit that they only threatened on one occasion to cut into.
They got on the board when Justin Turner’s double in the third inning that went off Jason Heyward’s glove on his attempt at a leaping catch at the wall in left-center field. Jose Quintana then proceeded to retire 11 in a row before allowing a one-out single to A.J. Pollock in the seventh inning.
Cody Bellinger’s double put two runners in scoring position. But with the Dodgers needing another hit to keep the momentum, all they received was an RBI groundout from Chris Taylor. Quintana walked Austin Barnes to keep the inning alive but got borderline pitches to go his way and struck out pinch-hitter Max Muncy to end the rally.
The Dodgers loaded the bases with one out in the eighth inning, only for Pollock to go down swinging on a pitch in the dirt and Bellinger to ground out.